داوید / تنه نزن
Astronaut's diary goes on display in Jerusalem
Pages from Ilan Ramon's journal, that survived explosion of space shuttle Columbia and a 37-mile fall to earth, to be displayed at Israel Museum for first time beginning Sunday
Published: 10.04.08, 10:41 / Israel Culture
Pages from an Israeli astronaut's diary that survived the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia and a 37-mile fall to earth are going on display for the first time in Jerusalem.
The diary belonged to Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut and one of seven crew members killed when Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering the atmosphere on February 1, 2003. Part of the restored diary will be displayed at the Israel Museum beginning Sunday.
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A little over two months after the shuttle explosion, NASA searchers found 37 pages from Ramon's diary, wet and crumpled, in a field just outside the U.S. town of Palestine, Texas. The diary survived extreme heat in the explosion, extreme atmospheric cold, and then "was attacked by microorganisms and insects" in the field where it fell, said museum curator Yigal Zalmona.
"It's almost a miracle that it survived _ it's incredible," Zalmona said. There is "no rational explanation" for how it was recovered when most of the shuttle was not, he said.
NASA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The US space agency returned the diary to Ramon's wife, Rona, who brought it to forensics experts at the Israel Museum and from the Israeli police. The diary took about a year to restore, Zalmona said, and it took police scientists about four more years to decipher the pages. About 80% of the text has been deciphered, and the rest remains unreadable, he said.
Two pages will be displayed. One contains notes written by Ramon, and the other is a copy of the Kiddush prayer, a blessing over wine that Jews recite on the Sabbath. Zalmona said Ramon copied the prayer into his diary so he could recite it on the space shuttle and have the blessing broadcast to Earth.
No indication of potential problems
Most of the pages contain personal information which Ramon's wife did not wish to make public, he said.
"We agreed to do the restoration completely respecting the family's privacy and the sensitivity about how intimate the document is," museum director James Snyder said.
The diary provides no indication Ramon knew anything about potential problems on the shuttle.